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Balcony solar panel systems gain popularity for their portable convenience — here's how they work

The new balcony systems are another exciting development that is making the benefits of solar energy available to more people.

The new balcony systems are another exciting development that is making the benefits of solar energy available to more people.

Photo Credit: iStock

A new type of solar panel system is gaining popularity in Germany, and you won't find it on a roof. Plug-in solar balconies are providing a cheaper and cleaner energy source that's also portable. 

According to Interesting Engineering, over 50,000 units were sold in the first quarter of 2024 alone, and more than 400,000 systems have been installed so far. 

Solar energy has been a valuable resource for many years now, offering its users great benefits like lower electric bills and fewer maintenance requirements. With the demand for renewable energy ever-increasing, scientists have been busy researching and developing new ways to improve solar energy. 

There have been breakthroughs in solar panel materials, weight, and energy absorption. The new balcony systems are another exciting development that makes solar energy's benefits available to more people. 

While rooftop solar systems are helpful for many and are now used in millions of homes, they aren't an option for everyone. Apartment building owners are not yet able to distribute the energy from a pooled rooftop system to tenants, and some homeowners aren't able to install them due to shade issues or heritage protections.

Solar balcony systems offer a solution to these problems. Since the panels are portable, renters can also take advantage of them.

Unlike rooftop solar systems, which require professional installation, balcony systems come with only one or two panels, a mounting structure, and a set of instructions, allowing renters and homeowners to install them themselves. However, it's important to note that the panels are about 50 pounds each and must be carefully installed to avoid safety issues. 

One drawback is that a balcony system only produces around 10% of the energy that a residential rooftop system can generate. However, even a smaller amount of solar energy can lower electric bills and make a difference financially. 

Germany's government has given solar panel users the option to sell their extra energy to the grid, making it possible for the panels to pay for themselves and then some. 

In addition to these advantages, solar energy is a clean, renewable energy source. It's a powerful tool in fighting rising global temperatures since it reduces our dependence on dirty energy sources and lowers toxic planet-warming pollution. As we lower gas pollution, we lessen the likelihood of the effects of an overheating planet, like extreme weather events that could harm humans and our food supply.

Many companies and organizations are rising to the challenge of reducing pollution with their work. Airseas has been working to reduce gas pollution by propelling ships with giant kites instead of fuel, Johnson Controls created an improved heat pump that's better for the environment, and Fourth Power is developing its thermal battery technology to create more renewable energy. 

Solar energy is one piece of a large puzzle in the battle against an overheating planet, and the new balcony panels are making it more accessible than ever before.

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